Election forecaster Sabato’s Crystal Ball on Wednesday shifted closely watched Senate races in Arizona and Pennsylvania from “toss ups” to “lean Democratic.”
Sabato’s Crystal Ball editors Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman said they made the changes based on an improving political environment for Democrats and weaknesses of the Republican candidates in both races.
Democrats see new glimmers of hope for their chances in November’s midterm elections after a string of legislative victories, easing inflation and an increased emphasis on abortion following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. They are particularly hopeful about keeping the Senate.
Kondik and Coleman write that they have been skeptical of Arizona Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters and noted the significant funding advantage his opponent, Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), has.
A Republican super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last week called off its advertising campaign in Arizona reportedly worth about $8 million.
“Do we think Kelly would win by high single digits, as some polls suggest? No way,” the editors wrote.
“But taking into account the Democratic spending disparity, Kelly’s candidate-quality advantages over Masters and the environment looking not as bad for Democrats, we don’t really think this is a true toss-up anymore,” they continued. “So leans Democratic it is.”
In the race for Pennsylvania’s open Senate race, Kondik and Coleman said ad spending between Democratic nominee John Fetterman and Republican nominee Mehmet Oz is closer to parity. But they similarly moved the race from a toss up to lean Democrat.
“Oz does seem to be putting in the legwork by keeping an active schedule, but some of his self-inflicted wounds have often enabled the Fetterman campaign to control the narrative,” they wrote in their analysis.
The campaigns have sparred, with Fetterman trying to paint Oz as out of touch and with a tenuous connection to Pennsylvania. The back-and-forth accelerated after Oz posted a video making a reference to crudités, or raw vegetable trays, and giving the incorrect name of a Pennsylvania grocery store chain.
Fetterman’s campaign made fun of Oz for the French reference, prompting a member of Oz’s campaign team to mock Fetterman for a stroke he suffered earlier this year.
Fetterman has also led Oz in several polls.
“It is not as though Republicans have nothing to use against Fetterman — despite his well-crafted, burly image, he is not particularly moderate,” the editors wrote. “But image does matter in politics, and Fetterman’s is just stronger than Oz’s, at least for now.”
The move brings the forecaster’s rating in alignment with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which similarly changed its rating of the race to lean Democrat earlier this month.